Program to Showcase ‘Garden’ Side of The Garden State

TRENTON (AP) -

New Jersey has a reputation for traffic and pollution, but a new effort launched Wednesday highlights the “garden” part of the Garden State.

“On the Trail with Mike Schneider” will teach about the flora, fauna and other scenery of New Jersey. He also will discuss the historical and sometimes contentious political issues related to the region.

Environmentalists say New Jersey’s natural treasures are often overlooked because of negative stereotypes about the state.

“What people don’t understand is New Jersey, in a very small area, has more diverse scenery and environment than other states,” New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel said. “They see New Jersey as the turnpike, the parkway, and other crammed roadways, but go a short distance in any direction and you will find some beautiful oasis of nature. From north to south, east to west, there are a lot of gems.”

In the pilot episode, Schneider hiked through one of the state’s most remote regions, the Delaware Water Gap. He went up Mount Tammany, the gap’s highest peak, and spent time at a ghost town with its mostly boarded-up homes, a reminder of the abandoned Tocks Island Dam Project.

Schneider also followed the Appalachian Trail into Palisades Interstate Parklands, where the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference recently completed a major land rehabilitation and educational project in Bear Mountain. He also headed south along the Hudson River to show the trails that follow the magnificent Palisades, and traveled along a Revolutionary War trail.

“I look for ‘special places,’ locations with great natural beauty and with great stories to tell, too,” Schneider said. “Many, if not most, of our most beloved parks and nature preserves, have been saved only after huge battles among competing interests.”